Northern Ontario Heritage Party - Origins of The Party

Origins of The Party

The NOHP had its roots in the April 1973 provincial budget in which the Government of Ontario proposed to extend the 7% provincial sales tax to heating and electricity. Ed Deibel notified the local media that he would go to jail before paying the tax. This led to a meeting of about 500 people, and the formation of a tax repeal committee chaired by Deibel. The committee collected 24,000 signatures from all over Northern Ontario on a petition. The government withdrew the proposal. Out of this committee came discussion about establishing a new province.

On May 16, 1973, Deibel formed a committee to discuss this idea, and began research about Northern Ontario’s problems. Deibel travelled Northern Ontario recruiting 600 members for the new province committee, and obtaining 6,000 signatures on a petition requesting that a vote be given to Northern Ontario on the question of forming a new province.

In October 1974, Deibel pitched a tent at Queen's Park, site of Ontario’s legislative assembly, for three days, and gave interviews to the media. This led to a half-hour private meeting with Premier William Davis, who refused to allow a plebiscite.

In the spring of 1975, Deibel wrote to Premier Davis, offering to abandon the new province committee if the government met seven demands:

  1. Establish a Northern Ontario Development Commission with citizens from Northern Ontario.
  2. A program paid for by the province to eliminate municipal taxes for ten years for all new manufacturing plants that complete at least 80 per cent of finished form.
  3. Non-renewable resources to have a depletion tax deposited in a trust fund designed for that area when the project in finished.
  4. At least 50 per cent of all natural resources to be processed and manufactured in Northern Ontario.
  5. A billion-dollar catch-up program to provide serviced land for housing industrial parks and social needs.
  6. Appointment of a provincial cabinet minister with full responsibility for mining.
  7. Lakehead University and Laurentian University would receive funding for a continuing program of research and development that assures a better quality of life in Northern Ontario.

The Ontario government responded to the offer, noting that "Northern Ontario... is strengthened by being an integral part of a very broadly based provincial economy." The government’s response addressed each of the demands, but accepted none of them.

Deibel replied with a demand for the Premier’s resignation, and on September 17, 1976, began to collect the 10,000 signatures necessary to register a new political party. The Northern Ontario Heritage Party was given official certification in October 1977, with 10,600 signatures.

The provincial government subsequently created the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines in 1977.

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